Children invited to climb all over art exhibit

By From page A7 | November 15, 2017

Sonja White prepares a section of Wingding in her Sacramento art studio. Courtesy photo

It’s not every day that a major museum invites young visitors to touch and shape its art installations, much less climb on them, but that’s exactly what the Crocker Art Museum offers with its newest Art Spot, Wingding. Created by Sacramento artist Sonja White, Wingding beckons children and their caregivers to step inside a giant, wooden, geometric landscape that encourages learning about the basic elements of art through play.

Funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and First 5 Sacramento, the Crocker’s Art Spots program features immersive installations designed for children age 5 and younger and their caregivers. Each Art Spot is created by a different artist or team who has spent up to a year participating in the Crocker’s ongoing early childhood program. During that year the artists and teams have worked collaboratively with museum staff, early childhood advisors and with each other to gain a thorough understanding of children’s developmental needs as they design and create their installations.

A parent and teacher as well as an artist, White is known for her work with Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera’s See the Music, Hear the Art children’s program as well as her series of symmetrical sculptures called Resonant Round. As she conceptualized Wingding for the Crocker, White took inspiration from nature and geometry as she created an installation that fills the Crocker’s light-filled Weborg gallery.

Wingding, which debuts at the Crocker on Nov. 19, is comprised of sculptures made of hundreds of wooden shapes ranging from 1 to 8 feet across. Children can build, stack and spin the shapes to create their own 3-D patterns on the walls. When viewed from eye level, the art can be appreciated from one perspective. But White has taken the experience into another dimension, placing mirrors on the ceiling of the Crocker’s Weborg gallery, to reveal the new form created overhead. As the children and caregivers design their own patterns and interact with each other, they naturally engage in what White describes as the highest form of creating.

“Children have many different types of learning styles where some are true creators, some are builders, and some are kinetic learners who need to move through something to understand it,” White said. “While Wingding is designed to appeal to individual types of learners, it also brings them together as they communicate using the universal language of geometry. I hope children will feel as though they have climbed right into the lap of a sculpture and know that it is made for them.”

A rich aesthetic experience, Wingding also creates opportunities for parents and caregivers to connect in new and meaningful ways with their youngsters as they ask them questions, share, and wonder together. Like the Crocker’s other Art Spots, there are even elements for babies to enjoy.

“Art museums are for everyone, and works of art like Wingding really help make this point,” said Crocker Art Museum Director of Education Stacey Shelnut-Hendrick. “This installation is engaging on so many levels and each visitor, child or adult, will see it differently because each person brings a different experience to it. That’s what’s wonderful about art.”

Wingding will be open Nov. 19 through March 4, 2018.

Crocker Art Museum

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